Pildat seminar on democracy: Need to democratise political parties stressed
LAHORE: Pakistan’s political parties need to be internally democratic for democracy to develop to the national level, said Sajjad Karim, a member of the European Parliament, on Wednesday.
Karim was speaking at a discussion ‘Strengthening Democracy in Light of Parliamentary Experiences’ arranged by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).
Syed Fakhar Imam, a former Pakistan National Assembly speaker, Sartaj Aziz, a former Finance minister, and selected Punjab Assembly, civil society and media members attended the discussion.
Karim is the only member of the European Parliament who is of Pakistani origin. Born on July 11, 1970 in Britain, he was elected to the European Parliament in June 2004 at the age of 34 as a liberal democrat representing North West England. He is a voting member of the European Parliament’s Trade Committee.
Karim said that Europe had been able to strengthen its democratic processes by encouraging the judiciary, media and civil society. He said that Europe’s political parties were based on memberships and it was the members who decided the policies. He said that the parties were decentralised which led to a reasoned policy process, adding that a society led by exceptional individuals helped its progress. He said that democracy played a key role in society’s progress.
Addressing the need of constant orientation and capacity building of elected legislators, Karim said that arrangements had already been made in the European Parliament to develop its members. He said that a basic level of support was provided to help members, adding that 51 percent of the members were new.
In response to a question about the West rewarding Pakistan for its support against terrorism and accepting President General Pervez Musharraf’s regime, Karim said that the European Parliament did not accept the way Musharraf came into power. He said, “However, we must recognise that his position in the country is providing stability within Pakistan and South East Asia.” He said that there could be negative implications if the West provided trade opportunities to Pakistan. He said that western democracies had to consider a complete view of the situation to avoid instability in the region. He said that the European Parliament had set up a strategic partnership with India, making sure it did not harm Pakistan’s trade.
Regarding the European Union’s role in Pakistan’s democratic process, Karim said that democracy and internal management could only be reformed through the efforts of the people.